Theresa May’s visit to Brussels last week, when she talked with the leaders of other EU member states, has been hailed as some kind of minor miracle, the sign that those rotten Eurocrats doing the negotiating can be bypassed. It showed that papers likes the Mail, and the Murdoch Sun, were right all along. Sadly, we now know that nothing could be further than the case: our Prime Minister was on little more than a begging errand.
We know this as the Frankfurter Allgemeine has reported on Ms May’s visit, and like the time that Nigel “Thirsty” Farage was quizzed by Die Zeit, the translation from the original German has proved most revealing - indeed, embarrassingly so.
One look at the report tells you all you need to know. “Theresa May asked for help with the Brexit negotiations this week in Berlin, Paris and Brussels … Earlier this week, May and Juncker met again for dinner, this time in Brussels … she begged for help”.
“She talked about the risk she took when she recently gave up a hard Brexit course and asked for a transitional period of two years, following current EU rules … She reminded them that she had also moved on the delicate issue of finances”. And there was more.
“And she reminded them that her enemies were sitting, waiting for her to fall. She said she had no room for manoeuvre - the Europeans would have to make it for her … she seemed anxious to the President of the Commission, despondent and discouraged … her facial expressions and her appearance spoke volumes”.
And how did other EU leaders perceive her? “Juncker later told his colleagues ‘Everyone can see that The Prime Minister is distracted by the struggle within her own party. Under her eyes she has deep rings. She looks like someone who is not sleeping at night … she looks tormented’”. And as for the idea this was in her diary for some time … well, no.
“May asked Juncker for the appointment at the last minute. Before that, she telephoned Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron. They were calls for help. May knew that other EU leaders were not ready to certify ‘sufficient progress’ in the negotiations at the end of the week. This blocked the way into the second phase of negotiations, where she wanted to be. The Prime Minister wanted at least to pave the way for such a move”.
So what did she want? “Could they prevail upon Michel Barnier to move to talks about the transitional phase after her departure?” The payoff? “For May this would have been a great success. It would have softened the strict negotiating plan. And it could reassure British businesspeople, who are becoming increasingly nervous … Several banks have already begun to execute their emergency plans, hire offices in Frankfurt or Paris, relocate business units. Others are preparing for it”.
But what Theresa May actually got, in return for her pleas for something positive to take back with her, was next to nothing. “Merkel, Macron and Juncker could not be softened. All three insisted on further progress, especially on the sensitive issue of money, before there could be direct talks about the future … May received nothing else”.
Forget the press propaganda. Theresa May went on a begging mission, and she came away without even a piece of paper to hold in her hand. Thus the cold, hard reality.